Noontime’s Teams To Watch in NCAA D-III Region 2

Michael Hnatkowsky and the Muhlenberg College football team will be a team to watch this fall in NCAA Division III Region 2. (PHOTO COURTESY: Muhlenberg College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our early preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting 10 teams we will be watching this fall in the NCAA Division III’s second region.

Yesterday — Tuesday, July 20, to be exact — we highlighted the first region, which included teams in our backyard here in New England, along with a few squads in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.

Alright, without further ado, let’s share our list (below) with teams from Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Brockport: Since 2016, Jason Mangone and the Golden Eagles have tallied seven wins or more — they posted a 13-1 record in 2017 and advanced to the second round of the 2019 NCAA Division III postseason after edging Western New England, 33-28. Brockport did graduate some key pieces from its 2019 squad, including linebacker Alex West, but should certainly be a team to watch in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference.

Cortland: It’s hard to rule out the Red Dragons on a yearly basis, which have averaged 7.2 wins since 2015. They produced an eight-win season in 2019 but ended with a setback in the New York Bowl to Hobart. The two teams are not scheduled to compete in the regular season, but could perhaps see each other later this year in the postseason.

Franklin & Marshall: The Diplomats have produced seven wins or more since 2016, as well as finished atop the Centennial Conference (CC) in 2017 with a 10-1 overall record. They will look to continue their momentum two years after posting a 7-4 mark in 2019, which was capped by a bowl victory against Misericordia University.

Hobart: After posting a 5-4 record in 2018, the Statesmen bounced back with a nine-win season in 2019, which was capped with a New York Bowl victory. One should expect the Purple and Orange to continue their momentum from two years ago when they commence their 2021 campaign at Alfred University on Friday, September 3 at 7 p.m.

Ithaca College: The Bombers have produced a trio of eight-win seasons in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and will look to continue that momentum this fall when they commence their 2021 campaign against Bridgewater State on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m. 2019 was a special season for the Blue and White as they not only won the 60th Cortaca Jug Game against Cortland at MetLife Stadium, but saw Will Gladney become the program’s all-time leading receiver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays capped their 2019 campaign with a 51-28 Centennial-MAC Bowl game victory over Stevenson University — quarterback David Tammaro highlighted the win by completing 22 of 33 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a career-high 101 yards on 11 carries and concluded his career as the program’s record holder in total offense (11,369 yards), touchdown passes (85), 200-yard passing games (34), and 300-yard passing games (13). He also recorded three 400-yard passing games, too — crazy, right? — but this season, fans of the Blue Jays will see someone different under center, but expect the program’s recent success to continue.

Muhlenberg College: Quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky will be spotted under center this fall — the Philadelphia Pennsylvania native, who was named the Centennial Conference (CC) offensive player in the year in 2019, will look to continue his previous success after an impressive third season with the Mules that saw him record career-bests in completions (270), touchdown passes (46), passing yards (3,640), and efficiency (175.81).

Salisbury University: The Sea Gulls competed twice this year, beating Christopher Newport and Wesley College in back-to-back contests in March to gain some momentum heading into their 2021 season-opener at Albright College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m. Quarterback Jack Lanham accounted for three touchdowns in both spring games, including a pair of rushing scores, and will once again be a player to watch this fall after being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) co-offensive player of the year with Ruhann Peele of Wesley.

Susquehanna University: The River Hawks concluded their 2019 campaign by capturing their third consecutive Centennial-MAC Bowl with a 88-24 win over Wilkes University. Susquehanna was one of two teams in the Centennial Conference to post 10 wins or more in 2019, and will once again be in the hunt for a league title as quarterback Michael Ruisch returns after finishing third in the conference in passing yards per game (215.9). Halfback Da’Avian Ellington is also back this season — the New Jersey native led all CC rushers with 112.3 yards per game in 2019.

Union College: 2019 was a very successful season for Jeff Behrman‘s Dutchmen — the sixth-year head coach guided the Maroon and White to an 11-1 season, which included a 33-0 shutout against RPI in their regular-season finale. Despite not playing last season, Union will once again be a team to watch this fall in the Liberty League (LL) as quarterback William Bellamy returns for his final season — he will be joined by a slew of other key pieces from the 2019 squad, including halfbacks Ike Irabor, who played locally at Xaverian Brothers High School, and Joseph Ferreira, a Rocky Hill, Connecticut native that rushed for a career-high nine touchdowns in 2019.

Noontime’s Teams To Watch In NCAA D-III Region 1

MIT will be one of a few teams to watch in the NEWMAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

A brand new season of NCAA Division III football is quickly approaching. And we’re excited about the upcoming season. Are you?

As a part of our early preseason coverage, we will be producing a list of 10 to 12 teams we will be watching this fall in regions one and two — yes, the NCAA has divided 239 teams into six regions for the upcoming season compared to previous years, which saw programs listed in the North, South, East, and West. These changes were highlighted on D3Football.com earlier this month.

So, without further ado, let’s begin our early preseason watch with our teams to watch in Region 1 this fall!

Delaware Valley: As noted last week on our podcast — well, we need to give some credit to James Baker of In The D3FB Huddle — the Aggies will most likely be the top team this fall in this particular region. DelVal did not play last fall or earlier this spring, but posted an 11-2 record in 2019, which included eight conference wins in Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). The Aggies will begin their 2021 campaign at Kean University on Friday, September 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Endicott College: The Gulls improved from 2018 to 2019. And despite not appearing on the gridiron last fall, it is expected the trend will continue this season when coach Paul McGonagle leads the Blue and Green onto the field on Saturday, September 4 against St. Lawrence University.

Framingham State University: Aynsley Rosenbaum will make his head coaching debut on Labor Day Weekend — Saturday, September 4 at 12 p.m., to be exact — when the Rams welcome Brockport to Bowditch Field. Rosenbaum spent 12 seasons with the Black and Gold as the offensive coordinator, and has helped the Rams win nine conference championships.

Merchant Marine: The Mariners competed one last fall — they defeated their rival Coast Guard Academy in the Secretaries Cup. Quarterback Ian Blankenship highlighted his team’s lone win of the 2020 season and will certainly be a player to watch this fall.

Middlebury College: In 2019, the Panthers were perfect, winning all nine New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups to become just the fourth team in league history to record an undefeated season.

Misericordia University: First-year coach John Davis and the Cougars will be a team you certainly will want to keep your eyes on this fall — Davis arrives in Dallas, Pennsylvania after three successful seasons with The Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia. Under Davis, the Builders posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, Davis and the Builders beat Oakland University in the NCFA National Championship.

MIT: The Engineers have averaged 7.66 wins in their last three seasons — they have also represented the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. MIT’s previous success should continue this fall, but like previous years, they will face some challenges against two local conference foes: Springfield College and WPI.

Stevenson University: Similar to the Aggies, the Mustangs will also be a team to watch in this particular region — they open their season against Johns Hopkins, which finished its 2019 campaign with an 8-3 record, including a 6-3 mark in the Centennial Conference (CC). Their matchup with the Blue Jays will be followed by two VERY iroad trips at RPI and Delaware Valley.

Trinity College: Look for the Bantams to bounce back this fall after posting a 5-4 record in 2019. Prior to their five-win season, the Bantams produced three eight-win seasons, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2016.

UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch is back to quarterback the Corsairs for one more season — in 2019, he led the Blue and Gold to a 7-3 season. UMass Dartmouth last recorded seven wins in 2004 when they were a member of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).

Western New England: The Golden Bears have won eight games or more since 2014, and will once again be one of a few teams to watch in New England this fall. And like most teams, they did graduate some talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Alec Coleman, but expect Jason Lebeau‘s squad to be ready come week one when they host Springfield College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Wilkes University: Coach Jonathan Drach and the Colonels enjoyed a successful 2019 season, which saw the team post eight wins for the first time since finishing 8-3 in 2005. Despite losing to Susquehanna University in the Centennial/MAC Bowl, the Colonels should be able to continue to their momentum this fall when they kickoff their season at Schmidt Stadium against Keystone College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

The Way Too Early New England D3 Football Top 20 Poll

By NoontimeSports.com

Sure, it is the 24th day of June, but football is on our minds. So, let’s keep with tradition from the past two years by unveiling our third annual Noontime Sports Way Too Early New England NCAA Division III Top 20 Poll.

Revisit our previous Way Too Early polls from 2019 and 2020.

This year’s Way Too Early Poll is based on last year’s poll (and somewhat our 2019 poll, too) — we know it will change as we get closer to the start of the 2021 season, so stay tuned for our first official poll at the end of August/early September.

Alright, without further ado, let’s get back to football with our 2021 Way Too Early New England D-III Top 20 Poll!


Noontime’s Way Too Early New England D-III Top 20 Poll (June 23, 2021)

  1. Williams College (2019 Record: 7-2, 7-2 NESCAC): The Ephs were our top team in this poll last year, so let’s see if they remain in this position in a few weeks.

  2. Western New England (2019 Record: 9-2, 7-0 CCC): It’s hard to pick against the Golden Bears, who continue to be the team to beat in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC).

  3. Wesleyan University (2019 Record: 8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): Last year, the Cardinals were fourth on our list. This year, they move up one spot — they should be ready to contend with Williams and others once the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football season kicks off in mid-September.

  4. Endicott College (2019 Record: 9-2, 6-1 CCC): The Gulls seem primed for an exciting 2021 campaign under coach Paul McGonagle, who has a former signal-caller on his staff: Joe Kalosky.

  5. UMass Dartmouth (2019 Record: 7-3, 5-3 MASCAC): Quarterback Stephen Gacioch is back for one final season with the Corsairs after an impressive 2019 season.

  6. MIT (2019 Record: 7-3, 6-1 NEWMAC): The Engineers captured the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship in 2018 before sharing it with WPI one year later. They will once again be the team to watch in the NEWMAC.

  7. Framingham State (2019 Record: 8-3, 8-0 MASCAC): Aynsley Rosenbaum will finally guide the Rams for the first time this fall after being promoted to the team’s head coach on January 19, 2020.

  8. Trinity College (2019 Record: 5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): The Bantams will be in the mix for the top spot in the NESCAC this year. That’s a fact.

  9. Western Connecticut (2019 Record: 8-3, 6-2 MASCAC): The Colonials will once again be in the mix for the top spot in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall, but will they be able to beat Framingham State and UMass Dartmouth to secure the top spot?

  10. Springfield College (2019 Record: 6-4, 5-2 NEWMAC): Look for the Pride to compete with the Engineers of MIT for the top spot in the conference this fall.

  11. Salve Regina University (2019 Record: 4-6, 3-4 CCC): Get ready for the Joey Mauriello show in Newport, Rhode Island.

  12. Tufts University (2019 Record: 4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Look for the Jumbos to bounce back this fall after posting just four wins in 2019.

  13. Middlebury College (2019 Record: 9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): After posting the first-ever 9-0 record in NESCAC play, the Panthers will finally have a chance to defend their crown this fall.

  14. WPI (2019 Record: 10-1, 6-1 NEWMAC): The Engineers graduated a slew of talent from their 2019 squad, but have brought in some impressive recruits that should help them compete with MIT, Springfield, and Merchant Marine Academy.

  15. Bridgewater State University (2019 Record: 6-4, 6-2 MASCAC): The Bears won eight games in 2018, but just six one year later. They were competitive — they certainly provided challenges for their conference foes and should find a way to be in the mix for the top spot as their 2021 campaign progresses.

  16. Amherst College (2019 Record: 4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): The Mammoths may have taken a step back in 2019, but you can bet they’ll be ready to challenge the top teams in the NESCAC in a few months.

  17. Nichols College (2019 Record: 6-4, 4-3 CCC): Every year, this team takes a positive step forward.

  18. Coast Guard Academy (2019 Record: 5-5, 2-5 NEWMAC): The Bears did compete once last year — they lost to Merchant Marine Academy last November, but we were able to get a glimpse of some student-athletes to watch this fall.

  19. Husson University (2019 Record: 4-6, 2-5 CCC): Something tells us that these Eagles won’t be on the bottom of our list for long.

  20. Colby College (2-7, 2-7 NESCAC): Keep your eyes on the Mules — Jack Cosgrove will have the Blue and White ready to compete with the top teams in the conference this fall.

Hockey East Announces New Postseason Tournament Format

The Hockey East Association announced on Wednesday a new postseason tournament format. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

Earlier today, the Hockey East Association announced a new postseason tournament format for their men’s and women’s leagues, which will feature every program competing in a single-elimination contest.

The new format for the Hockey East playoffs is set to begin in 2022 and will look similar to what fans witnessed earlier this year, which saw Northeastern University (women’s postseason champions) and UMass Amherst (men’s postseason champions) capture their respective tournament.

“This new format for the Hockey East Tournament gives all of our student-athletes the chance to compete for a championship, which is undoubtedly the most exciting part of the season,” Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf said via today’s release from the conference. “Hockey East is the most competitive conference in college hockey, top to bottom, and this new format will highlight the importance of every game during the season for players and fans alike.”

The 2022 Hockey East women’s postseason tournament will feature all 10 teams for the first time in conference history — the tournament will begin next February 23, 2022, with a pair of opening-round contests, which will be hosted by the seventh and eighth seeds. A few weeks later, the men’s league will begin its postseason with a trio of opening-round tilts with the sixth, seventh, and eighth seed teams serving as the hosts.

Noontime Commentary: Returning To The Microphone

Posing for a photo on the field following the conclusion of the first ABCD Field of Dreams contest.

By Matt Noonan

It was worth the wait.

After a 465 day hiatus, I finally was able to pick up a microphone and lend my voice as a backdrop for a local sporting event here in Massachusetts. And it was an amazing feeling.

Being able to announce this morning’s Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Field of Dreams contest between Massachusetts General Brigham and the Boston All-Stars at Fenway Park was exciting — in fact, it was the most fun I have had on the microphone since I started calling sporting events as a student at Wheaton College (Mass.).

Yes, I have announced this event in the past, along with the organization’s “Hoop Dreams” outing at the TD Garden, but this morning’s contest provided me with a sense of hope and renewal for future coverage in the “new normal” — I am already counting the days until to my next PA announcing gig while circling while plotting my return to the sidelines to cover future college and high school sporting events.

Like many, the past 14-to-15 months was a struggle, both mentally and emotionally — to be honest, I was unsure what I would produce for the blog and podcast when various leagues were sent to the sidelines at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But despite so much uncertainty, I remained hopeful and optimistic — I knew I would return to the microphone one day, and that day happened to be this morning: Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

It was just one game, but it was the best game that I have announce in 2021.